Mountain News 

Alberta resorts want new taxes

By Allen Best

BANFF, Alberta – Resort communities in Alberta — including Banff, Canmore and Jasper — want authority from the provincial government to levy new taxes.

The current funding formula used by the provincial government is based on full-time population, ignoring both tourists and owners of vacation homes.

Banff Mayor John Stutz said Banff’s population is 8,300 people, though the actual population averages between 16,000 and 20,000, with spikes of up to 35,000 people. The local ambulance district has a population of 10,000, but actually serves about 40,000 people, including people at the ski areas who are at higher risk for injuries.

The Rocky Mountain Outlook says amusement, tourism, and proper taxes could be included, as could special gas and vehicle registration taxes. One thing the resorts are adamant about, however, is that the taxes cannot be temporary.


Empty airline seats costly

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – Crested Butte is likely to pay out $900,000 in revenue guarantees to airlines providing flights during the past winter. Airplanes this past winter averaged half to two-thirds full, whereas they need to be three-quarters full for the airlines to avoid losses that the community must cover.

“We have to fill some seats. That’s the bottom line,” said Kent Meyers, the aviation consultant who helped assemble the flight program.

Flight guarantees for American Airlines were capped at $500,000. The airline flew 126 round-trip flights into the valley this past winter, mostly from Houston, Dallas, and other cities. “When you fly these aircraft up here for $30,000 a throw (and they’re partially empty), that’s an expensive ordeal,” Myers said. “We need to move the load factor from 67 per cent to 75 per cent,” he said.

United Airlines is the other major carrier, and it provides mostly shuttles from Denver. Those were on average only half full.

A valley-wide transportation district, funded by a 2 per cent sales tax, will bear the brunt of the loss, about $750,000. The ski area operator, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, will pick up the additional $150,000.

While Myers called the report “kind of sobering,” Regional Transportation Authority director Scott Truex saw a silver lining. The Club Med operation at Crested Butte was sold last year, and the resort consequently saw few Club Med visitors this winter. The resort, he suggested, was lucky to tread water. Plans are being made to put the Club Med property back into use.


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